iPad Air 2 silver flat

If anyone has been following along over the last few months then you’ll probably know that I’ve been having a bit of a love-in with my iPad mini. After initially suffering the same fate as my other iPads and being all but discarded after the initial novelty wore off, the iPad mini with Retina – now renamed by Apple as the iPad mini 2 – has become my main computer.

And yes, I just called the iPad a computer.

So when I started reading Federico Viticci’s iPad Air 2 review, I was already interested to read how he found the switch from an iPad mini to the iPad Air form factor. Turns out he likes it, and I find myself wondering whether my next iPad should be of the larger variety, too. I’m still not convinced, but with the Airs getting thinner and lighter and with ever decreasing bezels, it’s something worthy of serious consideration after falling in love with the mini’s super portable size.

While I came to the review for Federico’s views on the iPad Air 2 specifically, I came away with an increased sense that the iPad is in fact a real option for many people when choosing a new computer.

It’s no secret that Federico Viticci is possibly the forerunner when it comes to those of us that have ditched Macs in favor of iPads. It was his constant insistence that it was possible that made me even entertain the idea and, as a result, follow in his footsteps. These days I only use a Mac as a place to have Hazel running for my Dropobox-based photo management system and, if it actually works, Apple’s new iCloud Photo Library could kill that off now that it seems to be finally going all-in with the Mac Photos app finally on the verge of arriving.

Of course, since Federico published his review on Macstories there has been the usual cavalcade of detractors crawl out of the woodwork. The iPad isn’t a ‘real computer’ and it can’t be used for ‘real work.’


I’m doing exactly that and, you know what? It’s working just fine, thank you very much. It’s working for Federico too and, shock horror, it could work for you too. The iPad is only going to get better and if the iPad Pro is real, it’s going to be even better again. Calling the iPad out for not doing some of the things Macs can do is like all the people that said computers couldn’t ever work in the home because X, Y or Z. Times change. Uses change. People change.

And just because you can’t use an iPad full time, it doesn’t mean nobody else can.

Oh, and that iPad Air 2? Turns out it’s pretty good whether you’re writing 6,000-word articles or playing Minecraft.

Who knew?

  • WiseBlasian


    • WiseBlasian

      And having a bigger screen than your iPod doesn’t make it a computer. It’s nothing more than a giant iPod touch. Unless you call real work viewing PDFs and checking emails iOS in its current form cannot be a viable option as a computer replacement. It’s just too limited. You need a desktop and precise pointing device.

      • Kr00


      • Kr00

        You do know that the Gorillaz have recorded, edited, created album cover and marketed their last few albums using just an iPad, don’t you? I’m guessing it would’ve grossed them tens of millions at least. Not bad for not doing any “real work”, ay?

      • GzyOnline

        Explains why their last few albums SUCK!

      • WiseBlasian

        I’m sure the vast majority of iPad buyers are using it to create music right? 90% of people don’t even know why they bought an iPad. I know because I worked at retail for a few years. Let’s be honest here most professionals/students/artists don’t use the iPad for serious work.

      • Damian

        I use it for viewing files and reading
        I can say I consider it a great replacement over carrying physical books

      • Kr00

        Well sorry to burst your bubble, but I DO run a business and I DO use my iPad as my portable computer for quoting, invoicing and estimates. Needless to say, many businesses use iPads, restaurants/cafes for POS systems, realestate agents showing clients walk throughs of homes, architects, engineers and all those schools that use them as primary learning tools. You can say nope all you like, it’s clear you lack the imagination in understanding how iPads can and are used. Even with open eyes, a closed mind still sees nothing.

      • WiseBlasian

        Good for you then. Go ahead and replace your home computers and laptops with iPads. Don’t get me wrong the iPad can be a great tool for many specific tasks and I never said it is useless (even though it is for many people) but this article is about an iPad being able to replace a real computer.

      • Kr00

        Well I have given many examples where an iPad has replaced computers for many tasks. You don’t have to be an idiot about it, if you cant take a constructive critique then just move along.

        I’m sorry your limited imagination can’t see things as they are, you just see things for what you wish they weren’t. If the world thought like you, we’d never go beyond our current boundaries.

        BTW, I still use my laptop for working in my office, but I could never use it out in the wild as I do my iPad. You clearly don’t get it, so I won’t bother trying to educate the ignorant.

      • Ian Leon

        I use it to connect to FTP servers and make changes on websites. SSH into my school’s system for homework. Read books. Write notes. I use it as a scientific calculator with an app from Texas Instruments. It still hasn’t replaced photoshop in my laptop though.

      • mcdave

        I’m pretty impressed by Pixelmator on the iPad; easy compositing and even managed to paint a mask, select it and lift the selection from another layer. Not a full Ps replacement but better than expected.

      • Ian Leon

        i could use pixel mator. But idk if those people will be there for the next 20 yrs. I want to create my projects in a system that will stand the test of time. So I want PSD files. And that’s that.

      • mcdave

        It will import/export PSDs though I couldn’t vouch for the level of compatibility. I guess you’re well & truly locked in.

      • GzyOnline

        DYING LAUGHING.. hahahaha!!!!!!! … I’m a tech & gadget FREAK! I’ve prob bought 4-5 iPads in my lifetime.. I STILL ask myself-what do I use this for?? Honestly, I bought my first iPad just to play Zynga Poker on it, which I was already doing on my iPhone..LOL!!! ..Years and models later, that’s still what I use it for, albeit it’s jailbroken (OF COURSE!), has loads of media on it, and I use djay+Spotify integration to entertain myself at times…

      • Quang

        Don’t judge the world with your limited brain power please :))

      • therealjjohnson

        I use the iPad at work each and everyday. I use the email, word, excel, powerpoint non stop. There are also apps in the app store that run programs that let me monitor the productivity of call center agents in real time. Im not sure what you call work, but there are 37 other leaders in my department that all use iPads daily for business. The main programs we use on our desktops are all used on our iPads.

        Moreover, Technicians in the field use their iPads to check in jobs and connect equipment to run diagnostics. Again…this is real work that is not just checking PDFs.

      • BoardDWorld

        iPad needs AppleScript before it becomes anywhere near as useful as a Mac, among a great deal of other things. iDB do these random I use my iPad as a computer write ups every now and again but they’re more or less a joke. I never hear the follow ups to these stories, never.

      • Damian

        How is the battery? I noticed that iPads usually starts dying fast when used for a longer time in heavy apps like excel

      • BoardDWorld

        Excel, which I use a lot, has not effect at all on battery life. Only a few demanding games & FaceTime have noticeable impact on battery life in my experience.

    • Freddy Born

      I am so sorry that you are too limited to see.

    • Andres

      Haven’t you seen Apple’s iPad commercials

  • Adrian

    Even with a jailbreak an iOS device can’t replace da real shit, a personal computer.

    • VictorMartino

      And why is that. I can do everything that I usually do on a computer from my iPad. The iPad is actually even more intuitive because all of the services that I use offer apps to make everything faster.

      • mrgerbik

        disagree completely

      • Arturo Millan

        You cant play most AAA games at full HD, personally I dont consider a computer anything that can’t play Skyrim at Full settings at 60 FPS

  • hkgsulphate

    just NO

  • Shawn

    I’m going to say no just because it is a nightmare to manage files on iOS without a computer to start with. An iPad is a device I’ll play a video or read the web with or read a book. Anything higher than that and its to my MacBook or desktop computer.

    • I don’t find it a nightmare to manage files on iOS at all. Ever since iOS 8 brought extensions, file management has drastically improved. I have extensions for Documents 5, PDF Expert, Transmit, OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.

      I can use these extensions in apps that have been updated for iOS 8 in order to open files and save files and it works great.

      Apple has really knocked it out of the park in terms of managing files in iOS 8. It’s not quite as good as Finder on OS X but by no means impossible to work with. With any luck with iOS 9 we’ll see a Finder for iOS (I doubt it but it’d be awesome if Apple were to do so).

      • Kurt

        Try sending a video file using Yahoo mail…you can’t. If you send it through the mail app it doesn’t send it as the original 1080p. It reduces the size from 26mb to 1.3mb=horrible picture quality. On my Note, I can send the same video via Yahoo Mail with no reduction in quality.

      • This sounds like a limitation of Yahoo Mail as opposed to iOS (some email services have file size limits on attachments so videos must be compressed). Perhaps MailDrop could overcome this issue?

      • Kurt

        Huh? On Android yahoo mail sends the original 26mb file no problem. on iOS there is no option to send a video file. and with the Mail app it won’t send the original file. iOS forces you to try and figure out another way to do basic tasks. I couldn’t use dropbox so I ended up hooking up the iPad to the computer. I want to use a mouse and have more control over my files than what is possible with iOS I guess Android and Windows/Mac is just a better option

      • My bad Mail Drop only works with OS X at the moment and sending videos from the photos app forces you to trim the video. When you send videos from other apps though it does send the full video. I guess this is a limitation with the Photos app that Apple needs to fix.

      • Niclas

        You can email any file in IOS using the right app.

      • Shawn

        Until I can export my music and attach any file type to mail then it will not be as useful. I can’t add music that doesn’t come from iTunes. I can’t add videos that don’t come from iTunes. All my apps have to be approved by apple unlike on osx. Until I can leave my macbook at home and not feel like I’m having to make adjustments around it I will not consider an iPad an actual computer replacement.

      • Everything you’ve described is possible via third-party apps and side loading.

      • Shawn

        Side loading… Hmm… I wonder what it requires to do that.

    • Damian

      You do realize you can upload any file from any app to oneDrive or Dropbox or other clouds

      • Shawn

        Still requires a computer

      • Damian

        For clouds services you don’t need computers

  • Marcus

    A MacBook Pro is far superior to an iPad Air… They’re different in countless ways. An iPad is not a replacement for a computer. A Surface is a replacement because it runs Windows, but it’s not a very good replacement overall.

    • Dan

      still upvoting yourself I see >.<
      Although I do agree with your post.

      • Kurt

        Can you do work on the iPad, yes. Is it frustrating as hell to use it as a computer? Yes! Just last night I was so frustrated as said I wish I had a Surface Pro 3 because it’s just so bad at doing so many important tasks.

      • Damian

        What are you trying to do so desperately? I know it would be terrible to do some very detailed calculations in excel sheet that would use conpex imaginary numbers. But I find iPad for basic stuff just perfect

    • Keabsy

      Without a doubt. I spent this week without my RMBP and only used my iPhone and iPad. It’s a totally different experience. With OS X you feel that you have more control over what you can do, on iOS it feels so simple to the point that you find easier to do stuff on a Mac than on an iPad.

    • therealjjohnson

      I guess it would depend what you are using your computer for. Most people are content consumers and not content creators. If you are consuming audio, video, and documents you can easily do that on an iPad versus a computer. If you are a college student who used the Office suite (word, excel, powerpoint) on your computer you can also do that via iPad. Can an iPad replace every computer for everyone? No. To say it can’t replace it at all wouldn’t be an accurate statement however. That would be more personal preference than fact.

      • WiseBlasian

        You are assuming people use PC just for office. And don’t forget multitasking and having several windows at once is something that changes the whole experience. The iPad is a dumbed down PC. It’s good for media and basic tasks. Sure you can make a real good use for it with specific apps for specific situations but sayinf the iPad can replace a computer that does 10x more is just stupid.

      • therealjjohnson

        No, I am not assuming people use a computer just for office. The first sentence of my post says “I guess it would depends on what you are using your computer for” which points out people use computers for different reason. My post is basically saying don’t make a blanket statement like “it can’t replace a computer” because each person has different uses. I don’t think you really understood my post.

      • ins0mniac1

        Well said. It’s a little scary how little people understand that their use case scenario isn’t equal to everyone else. I get the impression people here are so desperate to prove what epic power users they are, that they assume anyone that doesn’t use a computer the same way they do is lame or missing out. In reality we all have completely different requirements and hence an iPad is more than sufficient for the workload of some people.

        For me personally I rely on multitasking and video editing too extensively to us an iPad as my primary computer. In fact I find a laptop too limiting most of the time and use a desktop PC. However I still love my iPad Air for basic work and content consumption and can completely understand how it could act as a primary computing device for many people.

  • Rowan09

    With a jailbreak it comes close but not there yet. For most people it will fulfill all their needs.

    • Guest

      You and your positive spin on not saying the truth that the iPad is no where near a computer replacement.

      • Rowan09

        A smartphone is almost like a computer. Besides doing programming you can do most things on a tablet or smartphone. Most people don’t do any programming so a tablet will fulfill their needs. I would never say the iPad is a computer but with a jailbreak as I stated its close.

    • Damian

      To be honest jailbreak sometimes adds more issues. I find that when I use my iPad for work many different tweaks start to act up and my iPad goes nuts. Other times when I do simple stuff my iPad behaves well

      • Rowan09

        I agree. I don’t use a lot of tweaks only the ones I feel should already be on the iPad like ifile, Safari upload enabler, OS Experience, etc.

  • justme

    I say Not Yet.. because a Main reason, Office Files Management including PDF’s.
    If apple open the gate of his main office apps then you can find easly on the spotlight your office files and if it shows to you the folders that were the files that you want to find too, then would be a BIG step for apple.

    for multimedia management, no problem. the apps that actually help you to play and edit videos natively o iOS is enough for me.

    it’s easy, apple need to focus in spotlight search, and improve it to bring us all we want to find. files into the apps (of course in documents folder of each app, not like iFile does that shows all file system).

    edit: need a true multitask system like split screen.

    hope see this changes on iOS9 soon.

    • therealjjohnson

      I use word, excel, and powerpoint on the iPad. The files are saved on the iPad itself and can be emailed very easily. If i want to find a word document i open word and take a look.

      • justme

        I know, you can open the app and search. but would be more fast and easy if the iOS search into the apps documents. excel, word, powerpoint, pdfs etc.. and show them directly on the spotlight.

  • James G

    If your work can retain all the assets (files, etc.) that it needs in a cloud service – no reason why ths isn’t a real possibility.

  • James G

    But ya can’t write apps for iPad, on iPad!

    • With jailbreak you can 😛

      • James G

        Well of course you could always remotely access a machine and use Xcode that way; or are you describing something else?

      • I was referring to Theos (iphonedevwiki[.]net/index.php/Theos) it’s an SDK (Software Development Kit) used for the development of jailbreak tweaks and apps and can be installed on a jailbroken iOS device so there’s no need to use Xcode (of course these apps will never be eligible for the AppStore).

      • James G

        That’s awesome! I was unaware of that. I’m just getting started with Xcode and development so not quite ready to start doing jailbreak tweaks yet (except for a single LockGlyph design tweak I did & submitted).

  • Dan

    The iPad is a computer… the same way a Commodore 64 could be called a computer as well. Do they all have the same productivity levels? No way.

    An iPad may be a computer for you, it’s a toy to me. Great for media consumption and light gaming. When I need to get work done, I need a real computer.

    Someday maybe.

  • Sohail Wahab

    My iPad is the most convenient device for me to browse the web, play games, read books, spend time on Facebook, Imessage friends, watch videos and photos and use it as reference tool for my medical school.
    I use my iPad more than I use my computer. It’s not as portable as iPhones, but as for this article, iPad is a post PC device and not as super portable as iPhones are.

  • sflomenb

    Only problem with me is I am a Computer Science major so I have to use a Mac for coding.

  • iPhoneWINS

    only if it is jalbroken

  • GzyOnline

    Safari doesn’t support Flash!.. and as much as Apple would like to believe that the world is leaving Flash for HTML 5, Flash is still here, going strong!, and us iOS users still can’t view it on our devices…
    and if the iPad is a computer, let’s see it DFU restore itself!

    • Shawn

      Stop using flash then? I haven’t had it installed on any of my computers for 4 months and I just laugh whenever another 0day comes out for it.

    • Puffin Browser or Photon Browser or Skyfire Browser.

    • Rowan09

      Safari doesn’t need to support flash since you can use flash through a browser as stated below. If flash was the end all be all Adobe wouldn’t have stopped support for mobile flash. HTML 5 is the future

    • Keabsy

      HTML 5 is starting to dominate.. give it a year.

    • Kr00

      The 1980’s called. They want your advice on which direction the future of computers should go. Not!

  • Laszlo Gaspar

    File management and the limited storage of an iPad limits it as a computer but it certainly tries to be one and I can see how its enough for some people.

  • iPodDroid

    An iPad is FAR from being a computer… If you want an actually computer get a Windows or Mac PC

    • By the very definition of the word computer the iPhone and iPad are computers they just offer a very different experience to traditional desktops and laptops.

    • It has a CPU, GPU, RAM and Storage, and it fits the conventional definition of a computer (bit. ly/1I4AcLz). It’s just running a bastardized OS (operating system), like Chromebooks, doesn’t mean it’s no longer a computer…

  • George

    An iPad is a large iPod touch, don’t be an idiot.

    • True, but an iPod touch is still a computer, despite how bastardized it’s OS is. It has a CPU, GPU, RAM and Storage, and it fits the conventional
      definition of a computer (bit. ly/1I4AcLz).

  • VictorMartino

    I have completely replaced my Mac with an iPad. I can watch all my tv shows in it, I can take it to class, listen to all my songs available on Google play music, write documents, browse the web and watch basically all videos available, simply because flash is almost dead now. I even watch porn on my iPad haha. That is with the iPad Air, imagine how great it would be with the Air 2 since it’s thinner and lighter. Battery life is the greatest feature of all. I only charge my iPad every two or three days, and that’s with quite intensive use!

  • ECLE

    “A computer has buttons”. Bobby Singer

  • Ariel

    Why not? a university student only really needs an iPad with a keyboard case. It has iTunes, Word, everything.

    • Uhm, this university student needed a whole lot more than that. I needed something capable of running the full:

      – Microsoft Office
      – MATLAB and Simulink
      – Visual Studio
      – eTap
      – P-Spice
      – PVsyst

      Maybe if you’re in business majors you won’t need such advanced legacy desktop applications…but the least every engineering student required is the first 3 or a true alternative on Linux/Mac OS X.

      And I wanted a tablet to do the following:

      – Naturally replace all my needs of paper, including the following, without me changing my habits of using a pen and paper

      – Hand note-taking
      – Hand-written assignments
      – Form filling
      – Document annotating
      – Image annotating
      – Document signing
      – Hand sketching/drawing/tracing

      – Seamlessly organize/manage, view, edit, or share my documents and media, be it on a local USB storage, a network storage, or on some third-party’s storage (i.e. cloud storage).

      – Provide me a true multi-tab web browsing experience to perform research without any tabs refreshing when I didn’t demand that

      – A fast multitasking experience, so that I can be, for example, composing my e-mail on one side and referencing some content from the internet in my web-browser on the other side, and dragging content between the applications.

      – Provide me the option to extend (not duplicate) to an external screen whenever the need arises. Like when I’m doing my assignment in OneNote on my Surface Pro screen, I can use an external monitor as an extended display for running a program required for the assignment on one side (e.g. MATLAB) AND browsing the web for certain tutorials on the other side of the monitor.

  • Sleaka J

    Cars will never be popular or replace enough horse-drawn carriges. You can do so much more with horses.

  • Dante Arellano

    That is the idea make an ipad as computer but apple wont do that if do that its going to kill macbooks

    • Rowan09

      This is what some assume the Pro will be. It would make sense to sell it as an extension to the Mac line.

  • Vinicius Rodrigues

    If you have an iPhone 6 Plus.. The iPad doest make sense to me… Its almost the same! Its true that I use a lot more my iPhone than my PC but for example to download a lot of stuff like I do, I need storage and a real computer to unpack huge RAR’s and things like that. On the other way a Surface I thank it can almost replace a real PC.

  • Oscar Perez

    It literally is though…

  • theemptyhead

    lol…seriously, how old is this writer?

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    There’s a lot of discussion going on here but let me tell you iPad is the best device for any student, can’t tell you how many exams i have passed just because i had a light device which i could use to read my notes on the very same day i had my exam on while going to the college.

    It’s a heaven for students, that is if you believe in heaven.

  • NekoMichi

    Different people have different views on what a “computer” is. Some people use a computer simply for consuming media such as music and movies, while others use a computer for heavier tasks such as office work and coding.

    To me, iPad has been an extension to most “computer” features, but to use it as a PC replacement? Absolutely not. I use an iPad for displaying music pages instead of printing out physical sheets, and this works much better than placing a laptop on the music stand. I also use the iPad for sketching and as a media centre for streaming content. In these respects, iPad has worked great. However I don’t use it for data processing, keeping my photo/artwork library, or video editing because a PC would be much more practical. My laptop has a much better interface for organising work documents and a larger storage space for everything, even the 32GB on an iPad can’t fit all of my work. Similarly, you won’t be able to get the same video editing quality as Final Cut Pro on an iPad (at this current moment, anyway). I /have/ installed the Microsoft Office suite for iOS and while it works very well on the go, it serves only as an extension for viewing and editing documents from my PC, I wouldn’t consider using it as a full replacement.

    So, I suppose whether or not an iPad can be a full-time “computer” really depends on each individual and what they intend to do with it.

  • Mark Kramer

    This is your opinion of a computer. Tablets aren’t computers to me and probably never will be. If your some old woman who only goes to a website and sends an email once a month you’d probably consider this a computer.

    • George

      Let’s not be sexist here, if you’re a old person in general.

  • It’s a computer by definition (bit. ly/1I4AcLz), and it has a CPU, GPU, RAM and Storage like every other computer. However, it’s running a bastardized OS (operating system), it’s stupidly inflexible due to the lack of standard computer ports, and it’s stupidly limited when it comes to true multitasking. Doesn’t mean it’s no longer a computer, it’s just a kiddy computer…

  • Josh

    I’d rather have my fingers removed with a blunt cleaver than type a 6000 word article on a damn iPad

  • Beat Modz

    it depends what you do. i cant NEVER replace my computer with iPad because i produce music and i need adobe audition, komplete, pro tools, studio one, fl studios, physical keyboard, mouse and MOST IMPORTANT DRAG AND DROP to make it much simpler but if all you do is writing then maybe yes.. PLUS WINDOWS 8.1 MULTITASKING MAKES IT MUCH EASIER FOR ME.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Faux computer

  • Ethan
  • Alberto Espinal

    Android users that come to this site always saying, ooh I can do this on my Note 4 but on my IPad I can’t do that, they all have an apple device that can’t do anything, so why you bought it them? You wanna know why cause you ain’t got S*t, it’s all lies if you know that your device is better then why you but something that doesn’t do what you like to do, and there is where you get caught lying that you have an iOS device! And in 1,2,3 here come the haters!

  • Chris

    USB = chance for my iPad air to become a computer for me

    • NekoMichi

      It’s not an official feature, but some devices can connect to the iPad and work via the camera connection kit’s USB socket. Things like keyboards have no problem. Jailbroken iPads can transfer data to and from certain USB drives too.

      I just wish Apple expanded on that and added full USB functionality.

  • Chris Wagers

    The only reason I haven’t done this yet is because I can’t figure out how to print photo quality prints from an iPad or iPhone. Is it possible?